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Faith at a Glacial Pace

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-2, NIV)

This last weekend I had the privilege of flying to Anchorage, Alaska to assist in photographing a wedding. I had never been to Alaska before and when we landed at the airport, I thought it was the most beautiful place I had ever seen. I had never before seen mountains that touched the ocean and it all felt surreal and a little bit like magic.

On Saturday morning we shot the wedding. It was a fun little ceremony that happened at 9:30 AM with everyone standing on a frozen marsh. Then we took the couple to a point along the coast of the bay and surrounded by mountains and sun, captured some of the most epic wedding photos I’ve ever seen. It was stunning and also really quick. It was intimate and life changing and all at a really rapid pace, mainly because we all wanted to get out of the cold and wind.

But that was the morning. That afternoon, we headed south of Anchorage and had our sights set on Byron Glacier. And despite still being in dress clothes and dress boots we walked through the ice and wind and occasional rain because neither of us had been able to just walk right up to a snow covered glacier. So, a mile in, along a winding path near a not-too-wide stream, there in front of us stood time itself.

Rising as if out of nowhere and disappearing into the cloudy sky was a glacier that despite the lack of sunlight still shone a remarkable color of blue from the inside out. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen, every photo I took seemed to come back lackluster because it was uncapturable. As I stood there at the base of this glacier something became very clear to me, the path it had taken over time was unmistakable. You could see the carved lines, etched deep in the mountains that surrounded it. You could see the rocks in the riverbed were similar to each other but earmarks of a different eras. There was no question where this moving mountain had left its mark, but there it stood in front of me, unwavering.

I am blessed to have come from a family that has deep roots in the Christian faith on both my mother and father’s sides. My mom’s great-grandfather, John Swanson, planted one of the first ever Swedish Mission Covenant churches before the Evangelical Covenant Church was even a thing. My children are sixth generation Covenantors and the Covenant is six generations old.

My dad’s family can trace their lineage to both the Swedish pietist movement and the Norwegian Lutheran movement stemming from King Haakon VI, who incidentally was also king of Sweden for a while and that caused a fair bit of tension for a few centuries. But I digress.

The faith of my families has never been likened to a firework or an explosion, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t left its mark on the world. The name of my great grandpa John is on the baptismal font where one of our very good friends still baptizes and dedicates babies today. The name of my father’s father is renowned for a hundred miles in any direction as a great man whose patient manner and kindness above self, lead many people to know the Lord. The legacy of my forefathers is one of deep and resounding love.

In a world that expects immediate results, we often want to shout at the glaciers to move faster, change more and do something. But how often we forget that as we stand at the feet of those mountains, at our own feet are the legacies of change they have left behind.

Don’t become discouraged if it feels like your faith isn’t always leading you to new and exciting things. The world is desperately in need of people who can stand steadfast in faith and love and be moved at whatever pace God gives, and then the mountains will move.

Ali can be reached via email here.

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